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  1. Talismanic books?

    Attending a recent occult soiree, I was offered the chance to acquire one of those deluxe, bound-in-vellum, limited edition, “this isn’t just a book, it’s a talisman” offerings which seem so popular nowadays. Continue reading »

  2. Tantra keywords: Embodied

    “I praise the circle of deities innate within the body, an elevated assembly continually present, the end of everything, vibrant and the essence of experience.”dehasthadevatacakrastotra

    For this post, I want to discuss some “Tantric” themes which relate to embodiment – in particular, whilst stressing that Tantra constitutes an embodied practice, I also want to point towards a key difference between South Asian and “western” esoteric epistemologies – that underwriting Tantra’s embodied practice is what might be called an embodied theology. Continue reading »

  3. Tantra keywords: Wonder

    I’m working on an article at the moment, attempting to explain what for me, are some of the basic orientations of my approach to Tantra practice. Rather than seek safety in definitions, I thought it’d be more interesting to examine my own perspective on Tantra practice by highlighting a few keywords – and so I’m beginning with Wonder. onwards…

  4. The Beltane Book of Living and Dying

    I fell in love with a tree, about four years ago. And after four years, she died. She was a flowering cherry. I’m not sure which variety, Prunus Pink Perfection I think or perhaps Prunus Kanzan. She grew in my local park, ten minutes from where I live. Blowsy and bedecked, ephemeral and voluptuous – that’s how she was in the Spring. It would have been her time to flower now, as her sister trees are, tossing their heads in glory. But she died. She was cut down in the snow, just after the Winter Solstice. Continue reading »

  5. The Anthropology of Magic reviewed

    Back in December, I rashly promised a review of Susan Greenwood’s new book The Anthropology of Magick. I’m playing around with the “Now Reading” wordpress plug-in at the moment, so the review can be found here.

  6. Occult gender regimes: Polarity and Tradition

    When women want to escape from exploitation, they do not merely destroy a few “prejudices,” they disrupt the entire order of dominant values, economic, social, moral and sexual. They call into question all existing theory, all thought, all language, insamuch as these are monopolized by men and men alone. They challenge the very foundation of our social and cultural order….Luce Irigaray, This Sex Which is Not One

    Continue reading »

  7. ordering-machine: meaning & mapping

    One of the reasons that I was drawn to studying occultism in the nineteenth century was its relationship to the colonial enterprise – something which first struck me when watching Adam Hart-Davies’ 2001 BBC series What the Victorians did for us was how much of the Victorian enterprise was bound up with the drive to order the world – be it through colonial management and its practices (census-taking, fingerprinting, anthropometry), mapping, and the emergence of new disciplines such as sexology, anthropology, and comparative religion. Ordering – and thereby managing these emerging ‘territories’ underwrote the great projects of the Victorian age, and I began to think of Victorian occultism as another example of this trend. Continue reading »

  8. Bumblebees

    I love bumblebees…

    My love affair with bumblebees started years ago when I worked for a ‘design company’ that constructed Santa’s Grottos all year round [horrendous if you don’t like Xmas in the first place!] but also made some seasonal decorations for shopping centres. And for the spring/Easter season some centre up North had ordered 3 giant bumblebees so I spent a few weeks helping another woman construct ginormous bumblebees out of hoola hoops, fake fur and plastic foil. Continue reading »

  9. Theorising Practice II: Habitus/Hexis

    One of the consequences of the mind (theory)-body(practice) divide in contemporary approaches to magic (and more widely, spiritual development in general) is the notion that the spiritual/magical is set apart from the material/everyday world. There is a pervasive belief that materiality (and the concerns that relate to it) is a burden to be overcome; that development requires that the concerns of the body be transcended. This kind of discourse tends to privilege abstracted knowledge over bodied experience. Yet all practices (including those understood as inwardly turning, such as meditation or visualisation) involve our bodies. Continue reading »

  10. Playful mind

    Meditation is often thought of in terms of stilling the internal dialogue, of calming the endless fluctuations or whirlings (vrittis) of cognition. Often, beginners in meditation find this difficult, and its easy to get into the routine of making meditation a seperate space from the rest of our lives; of practicing it at times when we won’t be disturbed by too many sense-distractions. It is difficult to still the endless flow of cognitions – to lengthen the gap between thoughts. Why not do the opposite? Let the mind play. Continue reading »